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Wood's Word: NBA already providing excitement

Another wonderful season-opening week of professional basketball has passed, and the thrills and stories are already coming.

As a Utahn, basketball is the easiest sport with which to be involved. With only two professional sports teams in the state, it is simple to place your devotion upon the Jazz. The games are frequent and the season is lengthy. Current hometown MLS playoff contender Real Salt Lake deserves its credit and attention for its steady success, but the franchise is still growing in popularity.

I had been desperate for the 2012-13 season for the National Basketball Association to begin ever since July, when the baseball team I support decided to have a terrible year. The Utah Jazz allow me to express an authentic devotion to their cause for which I need no justification. I was born in Utah, where I have lived my whole life, and therefore hold a credible source of permission to be a fan and act accordingly.

So, when the Jazz tipped off on Halloween night against the Dallas Mavericks and left Energy Solutions Arena with a significant win, I was very excited. The new roster additions seemed to fit nicely into the overall system, and the hope for a better season than last was instantly created.

The Jazz, however, were not the only team to start off the season in a surprising manner. With a very productive offseason, acquiring Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the Los Angeles Lakers were expected to hit the ground running to begin the regular season. The Lakers have not exactly come out with a bang.

With the second-most championship titles in NBA history, the Lakers have high expectations. So, when a team of such fame and anticipated success begins its season with a 0-3 record, it can turn some heads. For any regular team, a 0-3 start would be disappointing, but it’s only three games. When the Lakers begin with three straight losses — the worst start for the celebrated team since 1978 — it can send an organization and its fans into a bit of a panic.

Not only does the 0-3 start hurt the ego of the Southern California franchise, but the additional loss of newly acquired All-Star and MVP Steve Nash to injury likely hurts any chance of a fast turnaround for the team. Nash is expected to miss at least a week with a bruised knee — an injury caused by an accidental collision with none other than former Wildcat star Damian Lillard.

Back in August, Lillard had the opportunity to give a surprise visit to the Weber State University Student Association on the WSU campus. He answered many questions concerning his preparations for the upcoming season and what he predicted for the matchup against the Lakers for his season-opening debut. Lillard said the following concerning those who asked him about the game: “I tell them I can take Steve Nash.”

He wasn’t kidding.

Lillard is already causing a stir throughout the league as a result of his season-opening week with the Portland Trail Blazers. The rookie (who is averaging 36 minutes of play in his first two games) already has an average of 22 points and nine assists per game. Any questions of his place in the league are certainly answered.

Another surprise of the opening week was the departure of guard James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets. Harden, the 2011-12 Sixth Man of the Year, has an average of 41 points, seven assists, 6.5 rebounds and two steals per game after two games played this season.

After a busy first week, it will be interesting to see the rest of the season unfold as new stories develop. But it will surely deliver entertainment.

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